Modulars for beginners?

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griffin avid
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Post by griffin avid » Mon Sep 17, 2007 12:33 am

I don't think anyone would only buy 1 module a month- unless it was a hobby like stamp collecting. But, instead of spending all you have for a one time deal you can't grow with later- you could spend enough at the start (the same $500 in your budget) and add on after.

I sit on the modular fence too, but I also go to the end result and feel like I have some other options. If all your going to do is make a solid bass sound or a great lead for your tune then there are alot of other options.

If it's the sheer joy of having a modular then consider something like the Doepfer A100. http://www.doepfer.de/home_e.htm

I hear good things and although it's 3x what you propose now it might be worth looking in to.

Other than that maybe it's modular parts you want like a filter box to run your sounds through and not the whole system.

I just know my workflow. It would be fun to make sounds from scratch, but when I'm in the composition stage- going through all that for one more layer of sounds is too much of a slow down.
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Post by Sir Ruff » Mon Sep 17, 2007 1:20 am

whiteyhouston wrote:I've decided the only way I'm ever going to have a modular is to wait for the apocalypse, and then barricade myself "Omega Man" style at the Cantos Music Museum or something...

Fight off the zombie horde during the day and fiddle with my Moog system 55 at night...

can't wait..
haha... that sounds like the premise for some really bad 1970s tv show. Complete with cheesy Moog soundtrack.
Do you even post on vse bro?

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Post by Huppo » Mon Sep 17, 2007 5:10 am

machvingtsun wrote:Avoid going the diy route, If you were to spend the amount of time working that it would take to build the synths you should earn enough to start a modular system unless your experienced with electronics.
Is this the "time is money" theory?

Unless someone is earning money in their spare time doing nothing at all (or whatever else they do when they aren't deliberately earning money) then their time isn't worth any equivalent $ value.

How about comparing the time used in a DIY approach with the money you have to spend to learn the skills? It's simple and anyone can do it if they aren't a clumsy dope. All you need is the motivation to do it and a very small investment in tools.
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Post by synthetic88 » Mon Sep 17, 2007 6:36 pm

A few decisions to make: DIY/kits versus finished modules and size. The size standards are:

1. Moog/MoogCE/Dotcom/Club of the Knobs
2. MOTM (Synthtech)/Oakley/Modcan B
3. Eurorack (Doepfer, etc.)
4. Frac Rack (Blacet, PAIA, Analog Systems, Cwejman, Plan B, etc.)

You can adapt some module sizes to fit others with DIY panel kits, but it's generally best to pick one size and stick with it. The first two use 1/4" cables and the second two use 1/8". MOTM modules feel first class, and have the price tag and sound that goes with it. You might want to check out some of the dedicated forums for these, like modularsynth.net and electro-music.com. A few more thoughts:

- Most of these companies have their own email lists on Yahoo groups
- A modular is never finished, you will always want to add modules
- A modular is better at sound design than music. I bought one to create a "super-minimoog," but the patchability of it actually hindered my music making. I would get a sound I liked and was bummed that I would never get it exactly like that again.

I like the Euro and MOTM sizes best, though Doepfer can be gotten for cheap. People seem to like the sound of MOTM, Oakley and Modcan over Dotcom (short for synthesizers.com if you haven't picked that up). For the money you'll end up spending, why go half way.

Hope some of this is helpful. I hope to start a MOTM system again after I buy my Voyager. :)
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Post by synthetic88 » Mon Sep 17, 2007 6:42 pm

I'm not sure I like the idea of the module-of-the-month either. Having a system that doesn't make noise sounds very frustrating to me. Why not save up the money and invest in a working system from the start, then build on that. Rather than sending money to someone else.

If you're really on a budget, I saw some used Doepfer modules on the analoguehaven.com site (USA).
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Post by Constantine » Mon Sep 17, 2007 7:05 pm

synthetic88 wrote:I'm not sure I like the idea of the module-of-the-month either. Having a system that doesn't make noise sounds very frustrating to me. Why not save up the money and invest in a working system from the start, then build on that. Rather than sending money to someone else.
with dot com's plan it's possible to pay for several months at once and get corresponding modules earlier.

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Post by Bitexion » Mon Sep 17, 2007 7:09 pm

I despaired over the fact that I couldn't get good sounds back also.
But then I started noting everything down, and now I have an okay system I just jot down all the chords and relevant knob settings and I can get pretty much the exact same sound back if I want to. I'll write down all the chord connection in the top half and the knob settings in the bottom half.

Although sometimes they tend to sound completely different, specially when I hit some magic sweet spot on the original patch I can't find again, like a certain fast LFO speed that would create a certain effect.
Sometimes I wish I had a digital readout underneath each module so I could see the exact knob value when writing it down.

A typical AS patch can look like this w/my system:

Super Lead/Bass
=================

CV1 -> Multiple 1
Multiple 2+3 -> VCO1+2 CV In/oct
Trigger 1+2 -> EG1+2 Gate In
VCO 1+2 Saw -> MMF In 1+2, max level
EG1 Out -> MMF CV In Vary, level 4
EG2 Out -> VCA CV In Vary, max
MMF Low Out -> VCA Sig 1 In, level 4-6

VCO1 one octave above VCO2 in unison
Filter cutoff 0, resonance 5
EG 1 A1, D6, S0, R2
EG 2 A1, D0, S6, R3
TC Classic Hall reverb + 0.5s delay

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Post by Stab Frenzy » Mon Sep 17, 2007 11:40 pm

synthetic88 wrote:A few decisions to make: DIY/kits versus finished modules and size. The size standards are:

1. Moog/MoogCE/Dotcom/Club of the Knobs
2. MOTM (Synthtech)/Oakley/Modcan B
3. Eurorack (Doepfer, etc.)
4. Frac Rack (Blacet, PAIA, Analog Systems, Cwejman, Plan B, etc.)
OK, first of all the first two you mentioned are the same. (Moog/MoogCE/Dotcom/Club of the Knobs MOTM (Synthtech)/Oakley/Modcan B)
Secondly, Analogue Systems, Cwejman and Plan B are all Eurorack. So It should look like:

1. Moog/MoogCE/Dotcom/Club of the Knobs/MOTM (Synthtech)/Oakley/Modcan B
2. Eurorack (Doepfer, Analog Systems, Cwejman, Plan B, etc.)
3. Frac Rack (Blacet, PAIA, etc.)

Power supplies are another matter, check before you think about buying.

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Post by riccir » Tue Sep 18, 2007 12:58 am

Huppo wrote: How about comparing the time used in a DIY approach with the money you have to spend to learn the skills? It's simple and anyone can do it if they aren't a clumsy dope. All you need is the motivation to do it and a very small investment in tools.
+1 for that. With very little electronics experience I did build several MOTM modules ... and I was very very diligent in making sure I put it together properly, and that amounted to keeping the parts all organized on my makeshift workbench, cause h**l if I'd want to try and debug it or pay for a burnt IC :lol:

Also, while MOTM no longer provides kits, they do sell individual PCB's and front panels, plus some of the more specific components.

So, let me see how much cash maybe you could save for that:

For the 420 MS-20 filter clone:
PCB: $39.00
Front Panel: $39.00
Parts/components: $50 - a generous estimate assuming no exotic expensive IC's? Chances are you could get all of this from mouser electronics, which actually supplies stuff for MOTM. (anyone who knows better please do correct me on this one)
Total: $128.00

Price for the same thing assembled/tested: $339.00

Difference: approx. $211 saved cash :)

So, if you couldn't be arsed to set up a little workbench and work through the details of buying the components and assembling ... at least be aware of the premium paid for having it all done for you! Granted ... you do have to be very careful with assembly ... but we're talkin on the order of hours of time here ... should still have some left over for booze and debauchery! and more cash with which to finance it! :twisted:

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Post by synthetic88 » Tue Sep 18, 2007 5:22 am

I'm pretty sure that MOTM and Dotcom are different sizes. Dotcom is slightly taller and wider. You can screw Dotcom modules into a MOTM rack, though you can put them next to eachoter and it won't look too bad. But the power supply is different, etc. I was trying to stress that you should pick a size and stick with it.

I wasn't sure about the Eurorack stuff so thanks for correcting me. I'm not up on the girly-sized modules. ;)
For the 420 MS-20 filter clone:
PCB: $39.00
Front Panel: $39.00
Parts/components: $50 - a generous estimate assuming no exotic expensive IC's? Chances are you could get all of this from mouser electronics, which actually supplies stuff for MOTM. (anyone who knows better please do correct me on this one)
Total: $128.00

Price for the same thing assembled/tested: $339.00
You forgot brackets, other hardware, the "special parts" kits, knobs, jacks, etc. You actually don't save much. I looked at building a 480 filter and it was going to cost me around $300 (buying most parts from Synthtech), versus $399 assembled. Then again, I might see the kit in 2007, where the assembled modules tend to take a while.

However, I'll probably go the MOTM route (again) when I start my modular again, I'll go MOTM with some modules from Oakley and Bridechamber kits. I'm even thinking about my own module that I want to design and build...
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riccir
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Post by riccir » Wed Sep 19, 2007 3:56 am

You forgot brackets, other hardware, the "special parts" kits, knobs, jacks, etc. You actually don't save much. I looked at building a 480 filter and it was going to cost me around $300 (buying most parts from Synthtech), versus $399 assembled. Then again, I might see the kit in 2007, where the assembled modules tend to take a while.
Well ... yeah the 480 does have some expensive ICs ... for stuff like oscillators, transistor ladder filters, the components cost should be quite a bit less. Even still, a 30% potential savings isn't too bad ... an extra $99 could pay for a good part of another module! :)

Also, he basic components are pretty cheap... the most expensive parts, i.e. hi-quality pots/jacks you mayy be able to find for less ... buying them more direct should save some $$, too.

But, anyway, for my own project I'll actually be working out what the savings may really be in greater detail, down to each component price plus S&H costs from ordering online from a more direct vendor ... but especially for the more prosaic stuff like the envelope generators, the savings should be pretty decent. I'm starting a little DIY synth blog where I'll chronicle my foibles :)

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Post by gfriden » Wed Sep 19, 2007 12:39 pm

Lots of useful links and info here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modular_synthesizer
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Post by sequence » Thu Sep 20, 2007 3:16 am

I'm gonna have to throw my considerable weight toward a Red Square. I have a mkii and it is quite the awesome semimodular system with some odd (the Q control) but livable quirks. :lol: For the price, this analog can't be beat, because it is sooooo versatile and has a nice ARP-ish sound to it. :D Plus it has a nice S&H circuit that's a hoot! 8)

Get a black one, they're very rare! :D

(Oh and I started with a Gen 1 Nord M, but it was just too digital for me and I had problems with the interface freezing and crashing and crreating all kinds of usb driver issues with my computer. AS RS: just turn it on and start patchin!)
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Post by Automatic Gainsay » Thu Sep 20, 2007 5:09 am

No one would want a "module a month" plan. Everyone would want it all at once. But not everyone can have it all at once, can they? The whole point of the module-a-month plan is that a person can buy a modular synth on TIME so that they can AFFORD IT. You guys make it sound like Synthesizers.com had this great marketing plan based upon thwarting your ability to play their product. :roll:
If you can afford to buy enough modular at one time to not need the modular-a-month plan, of course you wouldn't join it.
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Post by haricots » Thu Sep 20, 2007 5:11 am

Mattson Mini Modular.

Maybe this has already been suggested ....

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